Kimberly Encourages the Brain Tumor Community

— Categories: Press Release     Posted on May 29, 2019

CERN Foundation President, Kimberly Wallgren, gave these remarks to patients and caregivers at the Bracewell law firm during the National Brain Tumor Society’s Head to the Hill event.

Participants gathered to raise awareness of ependymoma at the 2019 Ependymoma Awareness Day butterfly release.

Good evening. I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to the NBTS for allowing us to collaborate with them on their flagship event, Head to the Hill, and for Bracewell for so generously allowing us to use this facility. And to all of you, who are here today, I greatly appreciate your contribution and presence. It has truly transformed this event in many ways. Being able to share all of this in person has opened up the meaning of the time that we gather to a broader appeal and I want to thank you for that. While this day is celebrated internationally, I think in many ways, this event has developed its own importance here within this group.

You see, I have been involved in the brain tumor community for over 16 years now. I have had the privilege of watching how people navigate and handle this very difficult experience. I can assure you that no one does it the same. There is not a right or wrong way to deal with the decisions and emotions that follow such an all-encompassing diagnosis. Similarly, I can assure you that participating in this event brings a different meaning to everyone and no two people experience it the same.

One thing that makes this event unique is it creates a space for people to come together and sit with what they are going through, maybe where they have been, or even what the future holds, and find a thread of hope weaved throughout their own personal narrative.  When we gather like this, we chose to set aside this time for people to celebrate recovery, for some to accept their new reality after a diagnosis, meet up with fellow survivors and develop relationships, and for some it’s a time to grieve a loved one. And so, this can be challenging to address people who find themselves in very different parts of the journey, except to say that we see each one of you. And we know a little bit about what you are going through. And I want to tell you, you are welcome here. And in fact, each one of you has such an important role and we need you here. Thank you for having the courage to come.

Our contributions to this community look very different.  For people diagnosed with this disease, there is a wide range of roles they can have. From the bloggers, fundraisers, social media gurus to the quiet internal processors that prefer one on one interactions and for all those somewhere in between this spectrum, all of you are true warriors who have already overcome unbelievable things. So, to you, survivors, welcome. I am so glad you are here.

And to the caregivers who support and uplift to seemingly no end. Who will go in the room tonight, set the alarm, lay out the clothes, and sort the medication so tomorrow can be safe. And sometimes you might feel these tasks are meaningless, but it matters a great deal. It matters so much. And to you I say welcome. I am so glad you are here.

And for those of you who have grief. Deep grief, and your loved one is not here with us. I am glad you came. We need you here too. We especially need you. Your presence reminds us why being relentless with our determination and action is mandatory.

And to everyone else: supporters, carers, and stakeholders. You come here, sometimes year after year, and offer your support even though you could put it behind you, but it has changed you and you are here. The staff, I see you behind the scenes making sure all the details are covered, ordering wheel chairs, making sure people are accommodated so they can do their best. The medical professionals who persevere under extraordinary pressure and never can fully escape the heavy world of brain tumors. Thank you for coming. Your support means so much.  This space is for you too.  

We are all doing our best and trying to play our part in this group. So maybe tonight you have some extra hope to share or maybe you are in need of a little bit more. You are in the right place. Find confidence in the role you have and know that no act or contribution is too small. Be encouraged by wherever you are at and know that it is significant, it matters, it is purposeful, and it is uniqueness adds to the beauty and strength of this community.

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